Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

The witches fly
Across the sky,
The owls go,
"Who? Who? Who?"
The black cats yowl
And green ghosts howl,
"Scary Halloween to you!"
Nina Willis Walter
Everyone is a moon and has a dark side, which he never shows to anybody.
Mark Twain

I love, love, love Halloween! It’s a combination of my favorite things: autumn, ghosts, smells of burning leaves, vibrant oranges, reds, and browns, sweatshirts, rakes, split-rail fences. Halloween takes me back to my childhood when I lived in on a hill in very rural Pennsylvania. I close my eyes and I see the heaps of fallen leaves just waiting for me to jump in to. I can smell pumpkin ‘guts’ and can remember the thrill of sticking my handI had a dusty green sweatshirt that was so soft and fluffy on the inside and my mom would pull the hood down tight to make sure that not one windy breeze hit my ears. I can hear the crackly-crunch of the dried leaves, smell the cold in the air. I can remember the death of the garden. Cornstalks leaning over like old men turning into spirits. Old black rotten tomatoes that would sprout volunteers the following summer. No fear of snakes – it was too cold! We would trick-or-treat in town. Knocking on the doors, often the backdoors that we didn’t get to see during the day. Such a novelty being outside in town at night. Back in the day when we were more likely to get homemade cookies, or apples, or popcorn balls. Back when moms didn’t have to race home after work to grab their kids, throw dinner in (or maybe pick up a quick pizza), before rushing off to beg for candy. Back when Halloween was celebrated on the 31st on not on a Thursday because Halloween falls on a Friday and afterall, there’s a football game that night. Back when Halloween was spelled Hallowe’en (for what reason, I don’t know). Back when school kids learned little songs like:
‘Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate, The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late." The second one said, "But we don't care." The third one said, "I see witches in the air." The fourth one said, "Let's run, and run, and run." The fifth one said, "Get ready for some fun." Then whoosh
went the wind, and out went the lights, And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!” (anonymous)

Now that I’m an adult I hold all my Halloween memories close, trying to give those same memories to my children. But times are NOT the same. My parents still come down every home football game to cheer on their beloved Nittany Lions and to show support for JoePa. But mom is in her 70s and doesn’t hear so well and dad is in his 80s and isn’t quite as fiesty as opinionated as I remember – although he IS still quite the chocoholic and most of the Halloween candy my mom buys gets eaten by dad. My favorite aunt is gone so there will be no sweet Halloween card from her this year. Even my kids are more sophisticated in their choices for Halloween costumes this year. Thank goodness though, my husband regresses tremendously around Halloween time. He becomes absolutely giddy with thoughts of trick or treating! I know I’ll let the kids stay up late – energized by the pounds of sugar they’ve eaten despite my warnings that they’ll get sick. I know that tomorrow I’ll have post-Halloween blues. Well maybe not until Sunday since on Saturday the kids and I are going to a Halloween Hoopla with a new group of people who I’ve never met who are part of a sustainable-living community. I saw the advertisement – bring your musical instruments for food, music, and a bonfire – sounds like fun for me! But Sunday will be sad for me for sure. Because the day after Halloween reminds me of the quick slide into the most anxiety producing time of the year for me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


If a man harbors any sort of fear, it makes him landlord to a ghost. Lloyd Douglas

I’m not sure why, but for the past several weeks I’ve been waking up at around 3:00 or so. Wide awake. Until about 4:30 and have about an hour left till I really need to get up. Then I become very sleepy. I worry – irrationally. I worry about my house being on fire. This is probably because we did have a fire that destroyed most of my family’s house when I was in 3rd grade and because my first husband’s family home burned completely when he was a senior in high school. No one has injured in either of the fires but it has definitely left me with the knowledge that things don’t always happen to someone else and certain paranoia about virtually EVERYTHING! I check and re-check the batteries in our fire alarms. If I feel that I am going to be in an especially deep sleep, I make sure that the doors to the upstairs are left open so that should a fire breakout upstairs, I would be able to hear the alarm. I make sure that the dogs are distributed evenly throughout the first and second floor. Which is ludicrous because except for the chihuahua, I would have to wake Bear and Sebastian to get them to alert the rest of the house. They are very effective guard dogs . . . provided that any break-in or fire occur during their waking hours.

In the middle of the night, I worry about my kids. I feel badly that my son’s coat is a little too small. Not small enough that it is uncomfortable but a little too small. It doesn’t occur to me at night that his winter jacket is a very, very warm, weather resistant jacket that was handed down from his sister and no, it is not pink. I worry that I can’t find any matching gloves or mittens for them to wear for the 2 seconds it takes for them to get on the bus. I need to write myself a note to remind me that we DO have gloves and mittens to keep those little hands warm – they just don’t match which is more than what many, many other people in this world, this country, this state, have. I worry that I haven’t given my older son enough. I feel tremendous guilt that I don’t give him enough. But even in the daytime, I know that although he is a college student, he is my baby and always will be. It is not enough for me to know that he knows that he can always call me, always come home. I just worry that I haven’t given them enough.

In the middle of the night I worry about my animals. I worry that because I don’t have a proper barn that I’m not taking care of them. The fact that they do have shelter and nice cozy places to sleep and get out of the weather doesn’t register in the middle of the night. At 3 a.m. I don’t remember how well I take care of them or that sometimes animals die despite the care we give. I feel guilty that my llama isn’t in a hospital. I feel guilty that I’ve done all that I know to do, have contacted the vet, have been in touch with online experts, and given all prescribed medications and yet Jolly Llama is still lying on the ground unable to walk. I’ve contacted people who have blessed him, who have performed an animal healing spell, I’ve given him herbs, I’ve sung to him, I’ve told him that it is alright to pass on. I worry that I haven’t done enough.

In the middle of the night, I am visited by ghosts. Not the kind of spirits that float in the air and materialize from a mist but ghosts of irrational thoughts, guilts, and worries. My ghosts haunt me with feelings that I’m not good enough,
not good enough,
not good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I do have more than animals . . . .

Most days by the time I get around to writing in this blog, my animals are my stress relievers. They do provide me with much entertainment, a ton of work, a way more worry than you can imagine.
My children, of course, provide the same entertainment, work, and worry but I'm very protective of them. I find it hard to talk about my kids in generalities whereas it is easy to do so with the animals.
I guess that is kind of odd. I think if I started writing about my kids I wouldn't be able to stop. I have five of them ranging from 26 years old to 9 years old. I also have a nearly 2 year old grandson who, by the way, is the most sweetest blessing! Since the birth of my 26 year old, I've been married three times, divorced twice, have earned a bachelors degree and a masters degree, have been hired four times by the same employer, have moved 5 times, have had 4 miscarriages, made more friends than I can count, learned how to use the computer, become more open to change, well, you get the picture. I've learned different ways to deal with the teenage years, learned not to fret too much about the little things, and learned to truly value the seemingly insignificant stuff.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to improve on yesterday . . . .

Well now, after my great horse chase from yesterday (and the resulting tirade about how no one helps out around the house, how I'm left to take care of all the animals, and so on, and so on), I feel that I should make up for the lousy dinner that was foisted on my kids last night. My husband is on vacation and since I was having a hissy fit, he took the hint and threw some chicken nuggets in the oven and left me alone to pout.
It just so happens that I found this awesome blog yesterday -
Really good recipes with a southern flair. I don't know how I came across it but I'm glad that I did. Not only are there recipes but stories about the recipes. Just a really good read! Tonight, I'm planning to make apple muffins and buttermilk biscuits and yes, both will be welcomed by my family. I think I will also make the cheesy scrambled eggs since my husband won't be home and since I left him a message on the answering machine to ppppllllleeeeeeaaaasssseeeeee get out the pork chops to thaw and I know that he hasn't, this will be delicious for a windy, cool, snowy (yes it is supposed to snow tonight in central PA) night.
So check out this blog - some great recipes for the cookin' and the bakin'. I just hope that I'm not chasing a horse tonight!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Merry Chase

Last night the plan was to go home and repair the fence where my goat, Bucky, was escaping. When I got home though - he was already out and waiting for me. If you've never had the chance to spend time with a goat in rut, you don't know what you are missing! They have on their mind only one thing and they bleat this deep, loud bleat while wagging their tongue. It sounds a lot like those 'whaaaaatzzzzzz uuupppp' commercials from football season last year. And Bucky's call sounds ALOT like Beeeeeeellllllllaaaaaa which just so happens to be my doe's name. Well, Bucky loves me (not in 'that' way) and he was very happy to see me. Goats wag their tails and he was bleating and wagging his tail following me around.
Since it was getting dark, I decided that I would let Clover, the horse, out to graze. I usually just put her on her lead and she stays and just munches on the grass. But not tonight. She took off across the neighbor's yard and do you know how dogs tease you when you are chasing them? Stopping until you're almost there and then taking off? That's what Clover was doing. She kept going further and further down the valley. What made it embarrassing was that there was a church function across the road and we were putting on quite a show for the people going into church. What made it worse was that the neighbor teenage kids on the other side of our property were watching. But the most embarrassing part was that Bucky was running after me, every step, bleating BEEELLLLLAAAAA!!!!!
The good news is that I was concentrating so hard on catching Clover - which I eventually did - that I didn't swear out loud in front of the church people, my kids, and the neighbors. And I'm happy to say that this morning when I went out, although Bucky was standing up on his hind legs waiting for me, he was behind the fence and not outside.

Are you looking at me?

This is Dolly Llama. This is one of two llamas we acquired this past June. I never thought a llama would be part of my family. But as it turned out, a local woman had purchased four llamas from someone and needed to get rid of two of them. That's where I come in.

Now I assumed that llamas, being the docile, benevolent creatures they are, would act like big kitty cats. No they do not.

They are big. They do NOT have to like you. You have to earn their trust.

Unfortunately, the manner in which I earned Dolly's trust - and (I hope) her love and respect - is by caring for her partner, Jolly.

A little over two weeks ago, Jolly became very ill with what we think is meningeal worm. The big M-worm for which animals are immunized. For the past 14 days, Jolly has been unable to walk. He has been lying on the ground - we go out and move him every day. I've been feeding him by hand and giving him water via syringe. Sometimes he has a very good appetite and sometimes he doesn't. This morning was not one of his good mornings. But neither was Friday - I thought he would be gone by the time I got home on Friday. But he wasn't and Saturday and yesterday he ate with much gusto.

We've given him all suggested medications. I guess at this point it is up to Jolly. I hope that he understands how much I love him, that I don't care if he is 100%, that I just want him to be well as long as he is not in pain. But that's the thing with llamas, unless you know your llama very well - you have no idea if he is in pain or not.

But I think Dolly sees that I am in it for the long run with these guys. We will grow old together. They are only two years old and have a lifespan of 30+ years so they'll be with me into my 70's. I think Dolly sees that she's not going to be hurt for not listening to me and that they only thing that she can expect from me is love and caring. I have absolutely no idea what kind of history belongs to Dolly and Jolly, but they have it good with me!

And a llama kiss is a good way to start the day!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I. Eat. Little. Boys.

This is our miniature horse, Clover. She doesn't really eat little boys. My 11 year old daughter has always wanted a horse, has dreamed of having a horse, drawn pictures of horses, read every horse book she could find. Needlesstosay she is flying high in horsie heaven!

Making her happy was a huge factor in buying her this horse but there were so many other things. One of the biggest reasons is my dad. Ever since my earliest memory, I've known my dad loves horses. Everyone who knows my dad knows he loves horses. We grew up in a town which didn't allow farm animals so a horse was out of the question. My parents live there still. My dad is 82 years old and I don't foresee him moving to a farm anytime soon.

My parents come to our home and stay in a camper out in our yard every home football game (yeah Penn State!). The next home football game wasn't for two weeks after we brought Clover home. I couldn't wait for my dad to see her. Now I'm not known for being able to keep a secret - and it was agonizing for me NOT to tell my mom and dad about Clover. I fantasized about the surprise! I envisioned my dad getting out of the car and seeing Clover and falling in love. I also knew that my dad would be very stoic and I also knew in the morning when he got up would be when he went out and really appreciate Clover. He loves walking out and seeing the goats, Tommy and Bella, being stared down by Dolly Llama, and hearing the chickens make their early morning chicken-y noises. If ever a person should have been surrounded by animals, it should have been my dad. I remember a few Thanksgivings ago, I spent the weekend with my parents. My dad had found this skinny little abandoned kitten under the porch of his office. Now my mom, to whom most all of the animal care and chores fall, was not very thrilled to have another cat. But when she saw that skinny, emaciated little babe who clearly was in love with my dad, I knew that Boots had found a home.

I am old. I have just a little farm. And I love, love, love my animals - but I am so incredibly thankful that I'm able to provide my dad the chance to have a taste of the farm life too.

A torrid love affair

 I've written about the ducks quite a bit. It's a little like Peyton Place around here I think. A couple of months ago, the male d...